April 14, 2009
Citizens Against Government Waste Tuesday released its 2009 Congressional "Pig Book" that identifies more than 10,000 earmarks, totaling almost $20 billion, included in the 12 fiscal 2009 appropriations bill -- a 14 percent increase over the $17 billion in earmarks in fiscal 2008 spending bills. Alaska led the nation with $322 per capita, followed by Hawaii at $235 per capita and North Dakota with $222 per capita, the report said.
Speaking at the National Press Club, CAGW President Tom Schatz said the rise in earmarks will make it more difficult for lawmakers to control spending.
"If members of Congress cannot reduce earmarks, then people should not have great expectations that they will reduce other forms of spending," he said.
Many of the earmarks listed were part of the $410 billion fiscal 2009 omnibus spending package, which included nine appropriations bills. Although Congress cleared the bill last month and sent it President Obama, it came under attack by Republicans for including what they argued were wasteful earmarks. Democrats countered that earmarks amounted to about 1 percent of the total spending in the bill, and that failure to pass the omnibus would kill base funding needed to support initiatives included in the economic stimulus package.
Democrats also argued that Congress has the constitutional prerogative to fund member projects and that the overall level of earmark spending has fallen since they retook Congress in 2006. Democrats announced last month that members must list their earmarks on their Web sites ahead of committee action on the spending bills. Schatz said his group hopes earmark spending will fall further in the fiscal 2010 appropriations cycle as a result of increased disclosure requirements, but added only time will tell.
April 14, 2009